Under-pressure fathers "throw sickies" and lie to their bosses as they struggle to balance family and work commitments, according to a major new study of family life. The 2015 Modern Families Index, published today by Bright Horizons and the work-life charity Working Families, also captures a broader picture of working parents striving to put their children and older relatives first, while often neglecting their own health and battling against workplace cultures which impinge upon family life.

The 2015 Modern Families Index reveals that 36% of working fathers have faked being sick in order to meet family obligations, which researchers believe may include picking up children from school, covering for childcare breakdowns and hosting birthday parties for pre-school children. The study also reveals that 44% of working fathers have lied to their employer about their family for various reasons, which are thought to include concealing the true extent of family commitments or problems at home.

53% of working fathers said they dropped the children off at school some or most of the time. Among younger working fathers, 68% regularly drop their children off at school, compared to 61% of mothers in the same age group (16-35).

The 2015 Modern Families Index will be officially launched this afternoon at the Working Families National Policy Conference, which is due to take place at Portcullis House in Westminster. Representatives from the three main UK political parties, as well as Bright Horizons, Working Families, and a number of leading children’s and families charities are scheduled to speak at the event.

Carole Edmond, Managing Director of Bright Horizons, said: "The 2015 Modern Families Index shows that today’s generation of working fathers have a stronger-than-ever desire to be involved with their children and families - these are the Phil Dunphys and Pete Brockmans who sometimes risk getting fired in order to spend time with their children and relatives. However, these increased expectations often bump up against working commitments, leading to stress and unhealthy lifestyles as they try to cram everything in."

Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: "The study underlines the value to mothers and fathers of dependable childcare, which is often the hidden glue helping to hold busy family lives together. For mothers in particular, dependable childcare is crucial to advancing their careers. Workplace culture is also very important to working families, and we strongly encourage employers to work with the grain of family life, so that parents can give of their best at work and at home."

In the study, working parents revealed that the amount of time they need to spend at work leads them to make unhealthy choices – 36% said they eat unhealthy food often or all the time, 41% fail to take enough exercise and 33% rely on ready meals due to not having enough time to cook. Another source of stress for working mothers and fathers is their own parents – 40% worry that caring for their own parents will become a reality within 10 years.

One in three working parents said they do not work flexibly and 67% of working parents are concerned they are using either too little or too much childcare. 74% of working parents said they use their paid annual leave to support their childcare requirements.

60% of working parents said family is their first priority, 24% said their relationship with their partner, while 7% picked hobbies, followed by work (5%) and friends and community (4%).

37% of working parents said that work demands negatively affected their relationship with their partner often or all the time. Just over a quarter of working parents said work affected the amount of time they were able to spend caring for a dependent adult or elderly relative, with the figure rising to 50% among those with formal responsibilities in this regard.

Of working fathers, 50% said they would be nervous about asking their employer to reduce their working hours, while 34% said they would be nervous about asking their employer if they could miss work for a family event.

Some further data points from the report:

·         31% of working parents said they thought that work and family were both out of balance and the demands of both were not reconcilable

·         Around 40% of working parents said that work impinged on family life when it came to spending time with children at home, taking them to activities and helping them with their homework

·         25% of working parents said they would take a pay cut to reduce their hours.

·         97% of working mothers said that school or childcare would ring them if there was an issue rather than their partner

The study saw 1010 people interviewed across the United Kingdom, covering a balanced spread of working patterns, age ranges and income bands.

ENDS

 

About Bright Horizons Family Solutions

Bright Horizons Family Solutions is a leading UK provider of high-quality child care, early years education and other services designed to help employers and families better address the challenges of integrating work and family life. Bright Horizons provides nursery care both to consumers and in partnership with employers and also offers innovative round-the-clock back-up care packages for children and adults. With a reputation for excellence spanning three decades, Bright Horizons has more than 200 nurseries in the UK and Ireland. From the implementation of the Early Years Foundation Stage in 2008 Bright Horizons has consistently outperformed its sector in terms of "Outstanding" awards made by Ofsted. Bright Horizons is one of the UK’s Best Workplaces as well as one of the Top 25 Best Large Workplaces in Europe as designated by the Great Place to Work Institute.

www.brighthorizons.co.uk

For the full report, more information, or interview requests please contact: john.elliott@powerscourt-group.com 0207 324 0492 / 07894 709 826 alex.rowbottom@powerscourt-group.com 0203 328 9384 / 07734 568 590

About Working Families

Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life organisation. The charity supports and gives a voice to working parents and carers, whilst also helping employers create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone. The Working Families legal helpline is for parents and their advisers and gives advice on employment rights for parents and benefits for families. The helpline is run by a team of solicitors and advisers and has an Advice Quality Standard Mark. The helpline is supported by the Big Lottery Fund. Call free on 0300 012 0312 or e-mail advice@workingfamilies.org.uk

www.workingfamilies.org.uk

For further info or interview requests please contact the Working Families Press Office: julie.mccarthy@workingfamilies.org.uk   020 7253 7243 / 07736 232360

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